INTRODUCING CINDI ZIMMERMAN
Today’s TRIBE Tuesday features the touching and heartfelt story of Cindy Zimmerman who took my most recent Bloom True E-Course in January. Her journey is one of strength, trust and courage, both on the canvas and off.
Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your story with us here today…
Before I took Flora’s course, I had been painting for a year, mostly happy, bright, whimsical paintings….
But despite the happy vibes, when I painted I usually reached a point on each canvas where I became very fussy, anxious and frustrated. I can honestly say I had NONE of that angst on my Bloom True canvases.
Instead I had sheer excitement and joy with every mark I made (the good, the bad and the ugly, LOL). Ironically, the end result is not exactly a “happy” painting, but that was where intuition and my personal inspiration for imagery really came in.
At first I tried to ignore “that voice inside” and pushed it aside a few times, but cancer has been prevalent in my world more than I care to discuss….so I guess painting it was a way for me to verbalize it without uttering a word.
During week 3, as I pondered images that inspire me. I thought of all the brave people I’ve known and couldn’t think of anything more beautiful. I committed to that imagery (for that moment), and no sooner than I laid the scarved lady onto layer #6, my OBGYN called to say he found “questionable cells” during my annual exam and needed to do a biopsy of my uterus.
As you can imagine, week 4 (Being Brave) took on extremely personal meaning as I faced the biopsy and awaited results.
I tried to abandon the image I had previously committed to (fearing it was a bad omen), started to paint her away, but instead listened to that little voice and moved to my other canvas. But she wouldn’t leave me alone.So I went to work on the background, painting everything around her but rarely touching her face. The random mark making was the perfect distraction while waiting for results.
I made a bold change, letting go of the flowers that previously danced in the background. Who would’ve thought that stamping and decorating little hexagon shapes could be so joyful, but doing so truly got me through several days of worry.
Periodically I’d ask myself if the main image needed to be replaced entirely as well, but when I finally heard the word BENIGN from my doctor (whew!), I knew my scarved beauty belonged on that canvas and deserved to be finished.
Cancer is an uncomfortable subject, and I’m sure many people would prefer not to see it in art (remember, even I had previously created “happy” paintings, in large part to escape from everything less than happy in my 3-D world).
In no way did I intend to make a political statement with this. It’s just very real and impactful to me, and my gut kept telling me to paint this woman (I don’t know who she is), at this specific point in her journey. The word “strength” came and went several times, so I knew I was being tested.
My mother suggested I give her more of a smile….but no. She is too tired to smile. Cancer and chemo and radiation have a way of doing that to a person. That’s reality. But still, she puts on her lipstick and adorns her hairless, aching head with a colorful scarf, determined to get through the hard days. I don’t know how this woman’s story ends, but she is valiant by every measure no matter the outcome.
I’ve loved many women (and men) with the same circumstances and sadly have lost a few, but I’m so grateful that they allowed me to be part of their journey. I learned so much through their experiences, they inspired me in ways I can’t describe, and this painting honors all of them.
I was drawn to Bloom True because 1) the way Flora painted looked FUN and 2) I admired her end results and hoped that I would learn how to turn out similar paintings.
I never could have imagined the painting that would be the product of the E-Course. I also didn’t bargain for the life lessons I learned here: The power of listening to our intuition, making bold commitments while staying open to change, tuning in to our own inspiring life, and the importance of gratitude.
I’m excited now to go to my other canvas now. I have no idea or expectations of what it will become, but I sense this topic isn’t finished with me yet. So I will play and have fun and see where the marks take me…while being mindful of that little voice that keeps whispering.